"There is concern among observers that governance will founder as the United States and its partners reduce their involvement in Afghanistan. An informal power structure consisting of regional and ethnic leaders--in some cases the same figures running in the 2014 elections--has always been at least as significant a factor in governance as the formal power structure. The faction leaders lead or can recruit armed fighters, and several are reviving their militias in the advance of the international drawdown. An increase in the influence of faction leaders is likely to produce an increase in arbitrary administration of justice and in human rights abuses. International observers assert that there have been significant gains in civil society, women's and general humans rights, and media freedoms since 2001. Those gains have come despite the persistence of traditional attitudes and Islamic conservatism in many parts of Afghanistan-- attitudes that cause the judicial and political system to tolerate child marriages and imprisonment of women who flee domestic violence. Islamist influence and tradition has also frequently led to persecution of converts from Islam to Christianity, and to curbs on the sale of alcohol and on Western-oriented media programs. Afghan civil society activists, particularly women's groups, assert that many of the gains since 2001 are at risk if the Taliban is fully reintegrated into Afghan politics."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21922